Firehouse Partner Alex Conant Discusses Trump’s Reelection Prospects on NPR’s All Things Considered

May 7, 2020

President Trump Changes His Reelection Pitch During The Coronavirus Crisis

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LIASSON: The Trump campaign believes it can’t lose against an opponent who it gets to define. Republican strategist Alex Conant, who was Marco Rubio’s communications director in 2016, says this is one of Trump’s greatest strengths.

ALEX CONANT: As somebody who ran a campaign against Trump in 2016, you know, I know firsthand how really good he is at defining the opposition – not just defining the opposition but drawing them in to tit-for-tats where Trump always seems to win.

LIASSON: Donald Trump may be the weakest incumbent in 40 years, says former DNC chair Donna Brazile. But he has a lot of advantages, including a huge financial edge and a digital presence made more important now that the pandemic has ended traditional in-person campaigning and door-knocking.

DONNA BRAZILE: I would remind Democrats that the Trump campaign has been able to build an incredible online social media platform that is second to none. They’re going to be able to communicate with voters not only through the traditional means but the nontraditional means.

LIASSON: Historically, incumbent presidents usually win, except in a recession, when they usually lose. By November, says Alex Conant, even if the official lockdown orders are lifted, the virus might still have a grip on the economy and the campaign.

CONANT: At the end of the day, presidential elections aren’t decided by who spends more money or who has the bigger campaign staff. They’re fundamentally decided by what voters think about the direction of the economy. If the economy is effectively still shut down in the fall because of a lack of consumer confidence and a lack of business confidence, that is a real problem for the president, regardless of what his campaign does over the next six months.


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